London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called on the British government to continue applying pressure on the Chinese government to respect the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
In an exclusive interview with City A.M., Khan commented that new laws in Hong Kong have severely limited the rights and political freedom of Hongkongers, which is one of the reasons why tens of thousands of them have applied for the British National (Overseas) visa as they plan to migrate to the UK.
Khan said the Chinese government should respect the Sino-British Joint Declaration signed between the two countries in 1984 and uphold the commitment of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong.
“It is really important for the UK government to continue applying pressure on the Chinese government to respect the agreement reached in the two countries back in the 1980s.”
“The commitment was made in 1984, and basically, I think the ‘one country, two systems’ agreement should be respected by the Chinese government,” the Mayor noted.
It has been over a year since Beijing implemented a sweeping national security law in Hong Kong. 47 prominent pro-democracy activists and politicians have so far been charged with “conspiracy to commit subversion” by organising an unofficial primary election last year.
Last month, the city’s pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily was forced to shut down after several editorial staff members were arrested for “colluding with foreign forces” under the national security law.
Earlier this week, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam brushed off recent scenes at the city’s airport, which was packed with thousands of Hongkongers leaving for Britain, claiming “Hong Kong has a prosperous future”.
Lam added that the national security law and Beijing’s recent plans to overhaul Hong Kong’s electoral system ensure patriots are in charge of the city state.
Meanwhile, a recent report by MPs on the Home Affairs Committee urged the government to extend the new visa to those aged 18 to 24 years old who do not quality for BN(O) status.
Asked if the British government should extend the visa to cover the young group, Khan just pointed out other ways to come to London to study, work, or live.
“The BN(O) visa scheme is more generous than other visa routes, or even those fleeing persecution claiming asylum. But it’s there for the reason that was the agreement reached, and the British government to give them credit is abiding by that commitment. But that isn’t the only way people can come to the UK,” the Mayor concluded.